The Red-backed Fairy-wren is the smallest fairy-wren at a tiny 12-13cm. It is found in tropical and subtropical woodland with grass understory. It is the male who wears the bright red coat and the female is the plainest of all the female wrens with even no blue in her tail. I spotted this one on a birding outing near Bellingen on the NSW north coast, it was in grassland beside the road and I wasn’t able to move any closer but it looks rather pretty posed in the grass stalks. For a closer look try here.
The Red-backed Fairy-wrens are tiny birds around 12 cm top to tail. They are the smallest of the Fairy-wrens and are found in tropical and sub-tropical woodland with grass understory. The black one with a red back is the male while the female is the plainer brown.
There are a good number of national parks and nature reserves on the east coast of Australia and these are often found adjacent to coastal villages. One I am particularly fond of is the Moonee Beach Nature Reserve just north of Coffs Harbour on the north coast of New South Wales. At the north end of the reserve is a headland called Look At Me Now and this encapsulates much of what is beautiful in the area. Ringed with ocean views complete with islands and lighthouses off shore, and perfect waves where surfers are accompanied by dolphin pods and passing whales, the headland is a haven for kangaroos, reptiles and birds. One group of birds that is thriving are the fairy-wrens and this male is a Variegated Fairy-Wren. They are tiny at just 15 cm head to tail tip and come in two basic forms depending on what side of the Divide they are living (thats the Great Dividing Range to those unfamiliar with the abbreviation). As this location is on the east of the Divide he belongs to the lamberti. They are very common but tend to hide amoung branches and grasses so can be hard to see. They do however make a lovely trilling warble which is just as rewarding. These are just one of the many birds that can be spotted on the headland and surrounding beaches making it a bird watchers paradise.
These tiny birds are 14 cms tip to tail and this male darted around like lighting while I tried to blend into the ground. They are incredibly fast and difficult to capture and to date this has been my best capture.
The male Superb Fairy-wrens (what a great name!) are handsome little birds with their jet black coats and bright blue collars, unlike their female counterparts who have soft brown feathers that you can see here. Captured at this angle he looks like he is wearing Darth Vada’s helmet giving him quite a ferocious ‘don’t mess with me’ look. You can see how tiny he is in comparison against the banksia pod and if your not familiar with the banksia he is a mere 14 cm top to tail. They like to hang out in patchy undergrowth for cover and feed in nearby open spaces and have a full-throated gushing song with downward inflection.
Acknowledgment: Slaters Field Guide to Australian Birds.